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The Lyrics of Life in LA

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August 9th, 2014

Hi Beauties -

This blog was an amazing venture for me.  I was able to express myself and enjoy the fruits of Los Angeles's labors.  I explored relationships with entrepreneurs, fetishists, drug-addled rock journalists, angry widowers, angry animal rescuers, sweet but simple security men, burners, AA members who would tell me all about the famous people in their meetings, writer, poets, the misunderstood, the hard-to-figure-out-why-you-would-ever-try-and-understand, the musicians and ultimately found my prince charming (though I don't believe in fairy tales).
You followed my ups and downs with my emotions and my friendships and my bosses (oh so many bosses).  My love of music drove me to name this as if my words were part of a song.  I love the lyrics I have lived.

And I am grateful.
Very grateful.

The time has come though for my move to another form.  The Mermaid has become a Peacock.  A Pop Peacock, actually.  I have moved my words to another place.

Please join me at http://poppeacock.com/

I will explore some of the same as before but also take you on trials and tribs of my vlogging for your pleasure.

If you come along, I will be so happy.  And if you choose to say a watery good-bye, I thank you for being there with me.

Happy Saturday!

Mermaid Jones

October 4th, 2013

What I learned from Bravo

It's almost a dealbreaker with PB.
What is?
Oh, just my crazy obsession with Reality TV.
And not just network shows...cable shows too
And I don't even have cable.
I do, however, have my ways.
And I gluttonously delight in Housewives, women trying to marry, dumb 20sthgs living the life of celebrity, Persians in Hollywood, fat people becoming thin, therapists helping out Courtney Stodden, etc.

Besides a fabulous break from my own life and perhaps also slightly maintaining a moral high-ground while watching, I actually have learned a lot from the shows.

The main lesson is this:  no matter what anyone has done to you or how it affected you, you have ONE season (more like half a season) to work that sh*t out.

After that, the viewers expect you to move on and either pretend it didn't happen or pretend it doesn't affect you.

Sure it could give you cancer to bury it deep in your psyche, BUT it also could release you from the burden of being a victim.  It's all in how you look at it,

This blog has been an amazing outpouring of my life.  It has been a place where I cultivated my writing style and figured out how to be single in LA.
I shared my low moments as well as amazing times.
When I started writing it, I was really unhappy, but living a fairly awesome life.
I just didn't know it.

In the past few years, I have learned to embrace my own failings and I have changed the way I saw people and myself in certain situations.

Therapy helped.  Though I didn't much care for my therapist, she got me to the point of being honest with myself.

Then, I met PB.  We just celebrated 3 years together.

  I know in this voyeueristic time of social media, we tend to focus on others' realities and lives as being superior to our own.
  I have been guilty.  I have also had people tell me that they judge their own lives based on what they see in my profiles.
  My life is far from perfect.  But it is pretty damn great.  Money strains and unemployment have been PB's and my biggest hurdles, which in the grand scheme is pretty good.

    Lots of laughter and respect for each other.  And mostly, the freedom I have to be myself (even if myself is sometimes an a**hole) has given me a new level of confidence to take on any past
    insecurities which may still be lingering.  PB allows me that place. And I allow that for him, though he rarely exercises it to the point I do.

I have also learned how to move on from bad situations.
It took me longer than a tv season but I am releasing myself from old scenarios.
If you hold on to what people have done to you, then not only are you boring your viewers, you allow yourself to be a victim.

It's not always easy.  Sometimes I still engage in a battle I have already won just because of the muscle memory and knee jerk reaction to the bait.
In general though, my recovery time, is faster than it used to be.  I can smooth out the hair, bandage the scrapes and mend any rips in a way where I still feel victorious.

I have also become much more grateful for the bounty in my life.
Last weekend was supposed to be chill.  We had no plans.  I even took a nap!  I KNOW!
But as it usually happens when you're friends with Mads or Jazzy, magic happened.

Mads came into some tix to the Vampire Weekend concert at the Hollywood Bowl.  It was awesome!  We even were able on the fly, to grab yummy food (Joe's Falafel) and bus it over there.  Cup of wine in hand, perfect temperature, Beirut opened and I thought, this, right now, is perfect.  Jazzy was there too on a date (shhhh don't tell her I said that).
Hollywood on a Saturday night after the Bowl and during the San Gennaro festival delayed our bus home by an hour but with good company you don't mind.  Especially in hindsight and the bus came.

The next day, same magical people (Madsy and Jazzy) and family treated us to the Dodgers Game.  Dodger Dog in hand, my other hand hooked onto PB's arm and I thought, this, right now is perfect.  Except the Dodgers lost.  But they are headed to the play-offs so it's okay.

And with all these perfect moments, even the imperfect ones, I thought, I want to keep sharing these moments with you.
But I want to start fresh.  I want to show you my love letter to LA and to my friends and to PB with my new eyes.

So I will be ending this blog:  Mermaid Jones is going underground.  But rest assured, I will be starting a new one.

Stay tuned...

Thank you for being with me all these years.  It's been quite an adventure, perfectly suited for a mermaid.  But I have evolved and grown a pair...of legs that is.
I am walking here!

April 14th, 2013

I Have Time

For months, I have been planning to blog again.
I loved blogging.
It was an outlet and it was a diary of sorts for my adventures in LA.
I keep a pretty busy dance card so it was nice to capture what I loved about this city while with friends.

Every recent event, made me take pause so I would remember the details.  I was going to write about it.

But then my other creative endeavors would take priority.

My new year's resolution was to start blogging again.  But as you know, it's already mid-April and nary a word has been written.  If I used Twitter more than twice a year, one could assume I was getting my writing on by documenting my life more succinctly.

Recently, as Mads and I were scouting out where to have Zapato's and Mr. Zapato's co-ed bachelor/ette, we ran into some blog-worthy chaos and laugh-inducing antics.  "These are the times I wish you still blogged," she said to me.

"I will start blogging soon."

And I meant it.

But then things got busy again:   a fabulous and top notch fun wedding in Palm Springs and a weekend of visiting old friends; a fun night in Hollywood at a hip new spot for a talented, super nice singer friend's birthday.  seeing the Groundlings Personals show:  grateful I am no longer single but sad that I am no longer doing Improv; dinner with the girls; another dinner with more girls; supporting a friend in his Toastmaster's competition (side note:  the night was surreal in a way that begs for a blog entry but my friend totally kicked ass and was robbed at moving on to the next round.  Though in all sincerity, he is better than that circus I witnessed).

As you can see...I was too busy to blog.  But as my previous entries would show, those busy moments are when I used to blog the most.

I have time, I thought.

Don't we all?

Have time, I mean.  (Irony is thinking I have time to blog about things that I am too busy to blog about - wait, IS that irony?)

Mads and I finished the music video version of the footage we took at the wedding, despite some inebriated-shaking footage.

This morning, I was getting ready to head to Mads', I got a call from a co-worker.  Then another co-worker.
I missed both calls.  Then followed by a text about a former fellow co-worker.

But he wasn't just a former co-worker, he was the source of laughter and gossip and head shaking and lots and lots of fun.

But not only that, as snarky as he always was and there were times, his angling led me to wonder if I was making a deal with the devil, he was also one of the most generous people I have ever met.

He has helped so many people.
He made sure he took up for the underdog.  Or at least for those who he deemed to be needing help.

But he did it without a need to be acknowledged for his good deeds (though he LOVED acknowledgement in terms of getting attention).

He used to scream down the hall at his assistants - sometimes seriously and sometimes joking.
He also made sure we had parties when times were tough at work.  He created food show challenges and also art show challenges.  His life was filled with love and travel and friends and creativity.

He just helped a friend get a job in the past few weeks.  He also was the topic of conversation when an old friend and I reconnected about the past.  We laughed at this antics and we giggled at how he could make you crazy but also make you marvel at his level of risk in the face of office politics.

He was never far from the topic of conversations.

That text this morning informed me that he had died.  And not just died.
He did something you never think that people who have everything would do.

A fury of calls and texts were made and received.  Mostly shock and tears.

I am still stunned.  So many questions but ultimately, one answer.  Which doesn't answer any of the questions.

And I realized that I don't have time.

I mean, I do, but I don't know the length.

That's the gamble.  Live like you only have today.

So today, I blogged.


December 6th, 2012

Don't Mess With Sinterklaas

This was from a piece I did a few years ago at Comedy Klatch (a show at the recently closed Bang Theater).

I swear, I will begin to blog again very soon (especially for you, Mads), but in the mean time, please enjoy this reposted (and a bit retweaked) story in honor of Sinterklaas day (which is December 6th).

My mom is from Holland and is quite proud of it.
In fact, I think she could qualify as being called, "Super Dutch."  She's always trying to out-Dutch people, when, by the way, no one's trying.  Her accent isn't very strong and her English is really good.  But just like those bi-lingual newscasters, who speak perfect English until they come to a Spanish word, and then become a different person, my mom will transform former Dutch names or words in the middle of an English sentence into sounds which might scare you.  

You might hear her say, "Do you see that woman wearing the Gloria FON der Boyt jeans, eating the Gggggggowda cheese, looking at the fon kkkkkkkkoch painting?"

When people ask her to repeat herself, she slighly leans over to me and says, "I think this guy is slow...he doesn't understand me at all."

We would speak English at home, but some days when my mother would feel guilty that my sister and I were not bilingual, we would have Dutch Hour.  Dutch Hour could happen at any hour on any day at the whim of my mother.  She would write out lists of Dutch grammar and vocabulary words and my sister and I would then be tested on the lists.  If my sister and I did well, we got rewarded with more tests. If we did badly, we got punished with more tests. 

Today is December 6th, which in Holland is Sinterklaas Day.  Sinterklaas is the Dutch Santa Claus.

SInterklaas seems to be the catch-all patron saint.  He has a strange assortment of duties.  Among other things, he is in charge of:  Children and Bearing GIfts...AND is also in charge of Sailors and Defending the Wrongly Accused.  It's like he got first pick...AND last pick of the saint jobs.

Sinterklaas looks like a skinny bishop and travels with a black man, who coincidentally and unashamedly, is called Black Piet (but in a stroke of being progressive, I believe he is now just called "Piet").

Piet travels with Sinterklaas on a white horse to visit the children of Europe and in special cases like ours, to America. On Sinterklaas Eve, we put out our wooden shoes filled with lawn clippings for the horse.  If you have been good, the grass is replaced with treats in your shoe.  If you have been bad, Piet will put you in a sack and take you away. Just to make sure you're clear on the options for Dutch kids - GOOD: food in your shoe, BAD: kidnapped.

My favorite part of Sinterklaas Day is the chocolate. After a visit from Sinterklaas, our shoes would be filled with a giant chocolate letter of the initial of our first names. My first initial, "K," is a good letter to have. It's pretty big, so there's a lot of solid Dutch chocolate to enjoy. One year, "Sinterklaas" apparently ran out of K's and in its stead, my sister and I both had a letter "i" in our shoes. Neither of us have a name that begins an "i." I felt gypped. An "i" doesn't have as much chocolate as a "K." I complained to my mom that if Sinterklaas was going to bring a letter that wasn't my initial, he could've opted for a "Z" or a "W," or something with more chocolate than a skinny "i". She said that I was very lucky Sinterklaas couldn't hear me because otherwise, he might think twice about having given me any chocolate, and have Piet put me in his sack instead.

I know Dutch pride runs deep with my mom. I should've known better than to call her after I read David Sedaris' piece about his take on Sinterklaas and Piet, called, "Six to Eight Black Men".

"Oh my God, Mom, I just read the funniest story by David Sedaris. He's a funny writer, and he wrote a story about Sinterklaas, and I want to send it to you."

"I don't know...What is it? How long is it?"

"Oh, it's just a hilarious story...It's not very long. He talks about how Sinterklaas travels with six to eight black men."

"Well he doesn't."

"He doesn't what?"

"He doesn't travel with six to eight black men. Just one. Black Piet."

"Yeah, I know. I know the story. I'm telling you what HE says. Several Dutch people told him this -"

"What Dutch people?"

"I don't know their names. Just people...In Holland. This is the story they told him."

"Why is he writing a story about SInterklaas anyway? Is he Dutch?"

"No, he went on a trip to Holland, and this is what they told him. It's supposed to be funny. Anyway, he also talks about how Sinterklaas pretends to kick people -"

"NO self-respecting Dutch person would say that Sinterklaas pretends to KICK people. Who does this guy think he is, lying about Sinterklaas? Y'know, I don't wanna hear anymore. I'm getting very irritated just listening to this. I have had to fight people on this for years about the real story of Sinterklaas."

For years? She fought people on this topic for years? I didn't know this. Is this why she had to leave Holland? Was there bloodshed over defending the honor of Santa?

"Mom, can't you just put aside what you know for one moment to see the humor in this story? It's written in a very funny way. I think you would like it."

"Can't you see it from MY perspective? MY heritage?"

"Your heritage IS my heritage, and I think it's funny. Why can't you just listen without judging it?"

"Because people get this story wrong all the time. Sinterklaas did not KICK or BEAT people. Black Piet did, and that was only when the kids were bad."

"Mom, these aren't even REAL people. What you're saying is almost as funny as the story I want you to read."

"It's not supposed to be a funny story!"

"Well it isn't anymore. You obviously don't get my humor."

"I would if it were funny. But this is blasphemous, and there is nothing funny about that."

And then we hung up.

It was two weeks before my mom called me.

"Hi, it's your mom. Can we just agree to disagree?"

"About what? Humor? Dutch stuff? Sinterklaas?"

"Let's start with humor about Sinterklaas. Just so you know, I did look it up and found that sometimes Sinterklaas did travel with more people than just Piet. Their names aren't mentioned, so I think we should agree that Piet is the main guy he travels with."

"Fine. Piet is Sinterklaas' main travel companion."

"Don't say it like that. Now you make them sound gay."

"Well, that would be a funny twist."

"And we can agree that Sinterklaas is a good guy, who does not pretend to kick anyone - least of all children."

"Fine. He isn't gay and he doesn't kick children. But he still left me a skimpy letter "i" one year, and I haven't forgotten that. I mean...he could've given me two "i's" to make up for the missing "K"...I'm just sayin'."

"Are you still holding onto that? Let it go already. Kirsten, you can be so dramatic. It was just chocolate."

I guess everyone needs to have something to hold onto from their childhood. It would seem the apple doesn't fall very far from the Dutch apple tree. If we can agree to disagree, then maybe her reading David Sedaris isn't too far behind, and maybe the fiscal cliff can be avoided.  And maybe Sinterklaas will finally give me my damned chocolate "K".  They don't call it the season of miracles for nothin'.

Prettige sinterklaas  - Happy SInterklaas Day, Everyone!

June 30th, 2012

The Making of Cool 101

It was a long time in the making.

I came to LA, confident that I was funny; confident that my knowledge in pop culture would get me through any cocktail conversation and confident that I could write, perform and sing the hell out of a karaoke song.

Sure, I was fun.  But I wasn't cool. 

I started working at Big Name Director's as a personal assistant a month into returning to LA.
That job changed my life.
The people I met did too.

Mads has been and will always be one of my dearest friends.  Not only because she is patient, interesting, talented, fun and totally gets me, but also because she was someone who planted the seed in me to be exposed to a cooler, more interesting side to life, though I was kicking and screaming while she did it.

Ennui, my other creative, curious-minded and action-taking co-worker, was also a part of that.

Lately, I have been having revelations that in past moments when I thought I was in the right and the other person was in the wrong, that perhaps no one was wrong.  I am getting glimpses of how the other person had validity in their position and that maybe, just maybe...I was (*gasp) not entirely in the right.

This goes back to before moving to LA (apologies to Leigh regarding a possible move to Portland when I went MIA).  But I digress.

Mads and Ennui worked with me and we would have polaroid photo shoots in the office.  We had BE a DJ DAY, where we each would bring in our collection of cds one day a week and dance.  They would take me to art galleries and live music.  I usually complained about standing too long.  I didn't like the music.  And the art was not my taste.  Coachella sounded horrific to me, hippies irritated me and I had no interest in or talent for photography.  I also was very easy to offend.  

Yeah, I was a gem to be around.  

Between both of them dragging me along on their adventures, I unknowingly (unwillingly?) learned a lot about art, photography, music and the changing landscape of LA.

Fast forward to the year I turned 40.  I don't know if it was because I was dating irrational, immature men who had their finger on the pulse of what was going on in LA or if I was just being reborn, but I soaked up, ate up, drank up and immersed myself in all that was creative.  I hung out with PM, my downtown guide, who showed me how LA was shifting into a burgeoning night life of afterparties and art.  I went to events on my own and met a ton of people who are still in my sphere now and who continue to teach me.

I became exactly what Mads and Ennui had been and still are.  I became an artist.  I had already been taking photos for a few years prior to this but I was suddenly coming into my own.  I was remembering things Ennui had talked about (and recalled her editing-savvy and the questions she would ask other photographers, editors and musicians).  I was having deja vu of places Mads had taken me that were somehow in the recesses of my brain.

I even went to Coachella and flipped out at the awesome experience.  

There I was, hanging out with neo-hippies and not only wasn't I not irritated, I was in a joyous place.  I still don't really like that "oonze oonze" dance/rave music that seems to be at many of the events.  But I wasn't Grandma Moses covering my ears, telling everyone I was cold (fyi, I never did that).  I went to live shows all the time and became obsessed with anything up and coming (especially if it came out of DIY type bands, artists or writers from LA or NY.

Mads, now married and with a little less time to jump into a spontaneous evening (though she still has one of the most creative minds around regarding adventures and ideas), said a little sadly to me during that time, "what made you finally like these things? What took you so long?"

Her question was valid.  She had gotten the worst of me while trying to show me the best of things.
And now, when I was loving the best of things and going to additional cool things unfolding on a nightly basis, she was in a different place.

I responded that I wouldn't be loving it all; wouldn't be here, if she hadn't shown it to me first.

Being the generous person she is, that answer seemed to quell whatever was rising in her.  I had no other answer.  I had been a dick.  Not on purpose of course.  But I have no idea where their patience to bring me along came from.  I am just grateful that they had it and that they did.

There is a gallery at Melrose and La Brea called Gallery1988.  They have an exhibit at the moment that's a group show with all things "Arrested Development."  I wanted to buy a print.  I still may, though many were selling out.

And as I was thinking of how I NEEDED to buy a piece of art for my place, it dawned on me that this person, this person who cared about the finer details of creativity, not just the funny, not just the words, but the intricacies of the visual, well, this wanting art for my soul was new.  Sure, me doing photography now, helps me see things in a visual way.  But I don't think I would be where I am now, if it weren't for the lessons I learned so long ago from Mads and Ennui.

I still know nothing about fashion or design, and perhaps I never will.  But now my cocktail conversation has expanded, and I owe a great deal of that to my friends.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I gotta bid on a print of Buster Bluth being bitten by a seal.  I guess you can't take the pop culture out of the girl, after all. But you can definitely maker it cooler.


April 20th, 2012

A Week in the Life

This week has definitely been different.
Like, different from any other week I have ever had.  And it's not just a feeling.  And it's not just because of the experiences.  It almost feels like, I walked through another set of doors.  
Some things are crazy easier.  Some things are still my own baggage and weighing me down.  

Things have definitely been ramping up to this feeling since January. but this week started with my meditation class in Laguna on Sunday.  The weather was simply stunning.  And as we expanded our minds, I could see many a sailboat out on the blue ocean expanding their views.  It sure felt like we were being smiled upon.

I have been meditating for several years now and this was one of the weirder experiences I have been through.  
If asked, I would have told you my body was going to burst open (not exactly good and not exactly bad) with all the electricity.  
There was a flickering fast light in the corner of my eyes, though they were shut.
I felt like I was asleep, though I was very aware of all going on around me auditorily.
As we all came back to, we all remarked how this felt completely different.  What wasn't different, was drinking wine and eating fruit out on the veranda watching the waves lap against the shore.  Peter Brady and I drove home discussing ideologies and philosophizing about this, that, the girl the gold watch and everything - ha.

I wasn't expecting this week to be any different than normal.

It has turned out to be a week where I can't ever go back to old ways of thinking.
In the best way.
It's like a light was turned on and things became clearer.  And it's like I became the universe's pet this week.

I have 3 photoshoots scheduled for this weekend, My hair goddess D called me for a highlight (to be a model for her class - champagne hair for hooch prices), my car repair which was supposed to be $350 was going to be possibly be half off, ended up being 100% off and now, one of my very good friends, with whom I also happen to work, got a fabulous new position.  I am deeply sad to see her go but I am thrilled beyond belief that the work she has put into changing her life is showing movement this week too.

I am learning a new editing program and photography and creativity projects are just flowing out of me non-stop.

My meditation coach also gave me the book "Tattoos of the Heart" by Father Greg Boyle about the priest who worked with inner city kids to create the Homeboy/Homegirl Industries.  In a surprise Wednesday email, Jazzy invited me to a gala honoring them  this Saturday!

I know it's been awhile since I have written. It would be a fool's errand to discuss all the wonderful, horrible and funny adventures that have occurred since we last had contact.  Suffice it to say, there have been amazing times.  My first return-blog entry isn't about something funny or horrible.  But a lot of the energy around me is definitely wonderful.

Recently, I accomplished something I had wanted to for a long time:  to sing with a live band for the first time at a party.  I am still in love with Peter Brady.  My friends: Mads, Jazzy, GC, Leigh, Anna, Zappy and Reb are still very much in my life and wreaking all kinds of fun havoc.  And creativity is still my religion.  My mom came into town for Easter and brought a whole new set of comedic moments back into my view.  Life is good.  Life is moving.  Life is zooming through me at warp speed.

So if there is still anyone there, I hope you come back along on this new warp speed ride with me.  

Los Angeles is ours!  Let's make this thing dance!

October 5th, 2011

Tender is the Fright

I don’t think I am squeamish. 
I think I am fucking squeamish. 
But I like it.  I like to be scared. 
To a point. 

I can’t watch many horror films or ... “Sweeny Todd”.
But for some reason the show "Dexter”  - I am not only fine with, 
but I actually look forward to when he captures the bad guy and chops him up.

It’s complicated.

That fear vs. thrill vs. throwing up - that’s the draw.  Kind of like dating. 

Which is probably why, as a constantly single but dating gal, I had always met my new beau in October.

What could be better than to meet someone new, when the air changes temperature,
the smells turn from bbqs to apples and cinnamon while I prepare to costume myself as a slutty cat for Halloween?

There is something so thrilling about those first moments of meeting someone new. 
The ups are very up and the lows are non-existent.  Your heart beats fast
and you blush and feel excited at the slightest gesture.

Kind of like when you walk into the other October accoutrement: the Haunted House.

I am quickly targeted as an easy mark in a haunted house because I can be easily scared. 
I squeal.  I squirm.  My friends think it’s funny. 
The monster/actors feel like they are doing their job and I…feel the adrenaline pumping. 
The good news and the bad news is that…the fright is over as soon as it begins. 

The good news and the bad news about the men I meet in October is that,
it is always over as soon as it begins.  
They inevitably prove themselves to be wrong for me; a casualty of the season, October road-kill, a bloody stump of a once-promising limb, a gory splatter of a…oh sorry, I got carried away by the squeamish analogies. 
The main point is that the short shelf life of the thrill means I never have to delve deeper into relationships. 
The break-up appears messy, but I have come to embrace the part where we uncomplicate things and pretend there
were no consequences anyway.

Last October, a friend of mine sort of set me up with a friend of hers (see?  I am not only an easy mark in haunted situations, I might was well carry a neon sign that says “single single”). 
My friend’s friend and I connected.  It was all very facebooky, but I won’t bore you with the back and forth email banter (just know it was adorable).

We went on our first date (nice), and then our second date (very nice).   
For our 3rd date, he chose for us to go on:  The Haunted Hayride. 
It was the perfect set up. 
I would get to squeal and squirm right into his arms and he would protect me from the boogeyman, zombie-prom queen, mummy and axe murderer while riding along with other hauntees.

The reality was that although there were other couples, we were surrounded by several scared children.  One in fact, covered her face with her hoodie as the monsters grabbed at us in our cart and said with a whimper, "Grandma said there would be funny things on this ride...but I am about to get diarrhea." 

What that poor child didn’t know was she may have been in good company. 
That hay was quite moist, leaving me to wonder if I had actually peed on myself during the adventure or if I was sitting in that poor girl’s fear based bowel expression. 

Hopefully, it was just the foggy night air, but thankfully we will never know. 

The monsters were pretty scary. We would be carting along in darkness. 

Then the truck would stop. 
Suddenly a light would turn on and next to your check would be some kind of gruesome ghoul making an “Argh argh
ack” monstery sound. 

Again, I was an easy mark.  Though to be honest, I think in general we were all pretty easy since we were collected in one place making us very scare-accessible. 

There was definitely a thrill in the fright.  A thrill of being terrified in front of my date.  And a thrill of escape when one of the monsters would go after someone else in our hayride, sparing me. 

My squeals had turned to actual screams and my head never stopped turning to make sure I wouldn’t be the foil yet again. 

Across from me was a woman who was too cool for school as she sat there among us. 

Every time, another scary character would emerge, she would just sit there, arms crossed, smiling smugly,
saying to her peers, “This doesn’t scare me a bit.  I can see them coming.” 
This is a woman I would never invite to a party. 
This is a woman who really overpaid for this ride. 
This is a woman deprived of the formula I seem to thrive on:  the attraction and the repulsion. 
She won’t be sitting in moist hay.  Her voice won’t have the strained chords of having screamed. 
She will leave exactly as she came.

I, on the other hand, would not.

During the ride, my date, laughingly hugged my head as I buried it into his shoulder.  We knew our roles.

We played them perfectly. 

When the ride was over, my date and I walked arm and arm, while my labored breath tried to resume a normal rhythm and my wobbly legs attempted to regain balance.

Would this guy be different?  Would he be another October casualty? 
By February, would I be eating my way to spring via multiple packs of 100-calorie cookies in one sitting?

That date led to another.  And another.  And another.  And a…nother.

I soon found I was in a (gasp)…relationship.

I didn’t know actual fright, until the moment I let him see how fast my dishes pile up before I would wash them.

Until we argued about the value of ELO’s music. (for the record...I value it, he doesn't).

Until I drunkenly asked him, “so what? Are we exclusive?” after telling my friends that I would never ask him.

Until I drunkenly said, “I love you”, when I swore to myself I would never say it first.

Until the first time I told him the reason I was busy on Monday nights was to watch "The Bachelorette."

And…he didn’t leave.

"The Bachelorette" is still a potential deal breaker for him but the last season just ended, soooo, so far so good.

The whole idea of being frightened on cue is a quaint pattern to adopt. 
So is the idea of trying to date someone during a particular month. 
A haunted hayride path is predictable. 
Life isn’t.

That woman on the ride with us who refused to get scared will always overpay because she always has the answers. 
What the hell was she doing on that ride?

I know what I was doing there. 

Besides possibly peeing in the hay, I was diving a little deeper into the darkness of October. 

It had nothing to do with monsters. 

Though it had everything to do with letting go of ghosts.


Getting Back To It


Last year, the Goddess Christine (GC) passed my name along to a woman who was starting up another essay salon.  GC and I, along with several others performed the first Word Salad November 2010.  It was right after I had done GC's comedy show, "Comedy Klatch" where I had read the first new piece in awhile.

Then I met Peter Brady.
And suddenly, the year was more about fun, meditation, exploring Los Angeles and enjoying my relationship rather than photography, writing, blogging (I am sure you are aware of the absence) and performing comedy.

I knew that I would get back to the things that define me creatively some time.

I have been taking belly dance classes for 5 years now.  But I always bow out for any showcases or recitals.

This year, the class I was in at the YMCA, was getting ready for the next recital.  Anna and PB both insisted that I take part.
But I was afraid.  I envisioned me forgetting everything I had learned and standing there in front of everyone just improvising dance moves while my class would aptly complete the routine.

But I took part anyway.  And I didn't forget the routine.  In fact, I smiled through the entire things remembering why I love to perform.
Now I can't wait for the next recital. 

GC had also been asking me if I would perform in one of her shows this year.  I kept turning her down for the reason that I wanted to perform only if I had written something new.  And since I wasn't sitting down to write, that made me creating something new a lot less likely, meaning I probably wouldn't be performing.  GC said it would be a shame if I went this whole year without performing.

Lora, the creator of Word Salad, contacted me again almost a year after I performed for the premiere of the essay show to perform for the upcoming October show.
I was hesitant. 
Still nothing new.
Still not feeling the drive to get up there.

But PB gently urged me to do it.  "Take the challenge!", he said.

So I said yes, hoping that the show was already full.  And it was.  But then someone fell out and Lora said she was so happy I could fill in afterall.

Shit.  Now I had to write something.  And fast.
It was right after the weekend of the belly dance recital.  And as many of you know, October is a very busy month for me.
What had I gotten myself into?

I will tell you what.

I had gotten myself back into the place I should have never left:  the creative maelstrom.

With PB's editing help, I was able to write a new piece for Word Salad.

Still riding the high from Saturday's belly dance recital, I went into the Talking Stick Coffee Shop (cool place) last night to read my newest essay on Fright.

The show was fabulous.  Great readers, great energy and I...I felt like I was back in.

Who knew it would take the 4th quarter of the year to find my groove again.

Thanks to Anna, PB, and GC for continuing to urge me.  And thanks to Lora for allowing me to be a replacement.

I am a writing and performing machine.  With an external photography machine attached.

I can't be stopped.  Machines usually can't.  (By the way, this isn't some dystopian world where machines take over...just merely a friendly creative machine who will stomp on you lest you get in my path : )  )

Oh, and for those of you who are curious...I am attaching the piece I wrote for last night's show in the next blog entry.
It's called "Tender is the Fright" and I hope you laugh in your outside voice...or at least giggle a spell.


September 20th, 2011

It was exciting to watch the lighting storm when it appeared over the hill.
But as we got closer, and realized that the lightning storm was something we were riding right through the middle of, my already tense tummy began to knot up.  At first I tried in vain to photograph it.  But my timing was off.

It was getting to me.

It was 12:30 am on a Friday night.

My 4 year old car's transmission had gone out (remember Blythe) on our way to the Grand Canyon the week before.
So I had to leave it in Flagstaff.  I had to leave it in Flagstaff so that the Flagstaff dealership could get a part shipped from...LA.

Armed with a rental for who knew how long, Peter Brady and I finished our Arizona vacation at my dad's (after seeing the magnificent Grand Canyon). 

It was a wonderful week.
And his wife Mimi suggested I contact the warranty for my car and see if they could pay for any of the hassle:  the rental, etc.  The transmission was covered so I was thankful for that.

So I returned to work in LA after the vacay, knowing full well, I needed to return to the Conservative state to retrieve my auto.

The rental was nice.  Peter Brady told me not to get too attached to it since we would eventually be back in my car.

We got the call. The car was ready. 
We had to be in Flagstaff between 9am and noon because those were the rental car place's hours on a Saturday.  And since they wouldn't rent me a car to only be dropped off in LA and that I needed to return to them directly, we were up against this crazy, awesome schedule.  Yipppepeee.

Friday after work, loaded with triple shots of whatever caffeinated beverages and Peter Brady downing two 5-hour energy drinks, we headed east. And north I guess. 

I played a lot of tunes to make sure I didn't fall asleep and leave PB alone at the wheel.  Those are my control issues.
At a certain point, you think, this isn't so bad:  beautiful road, America, music, lightning storm - workable.

Then a few hours later, you reach a different conclusion:  when will this m*ther F--in light show in the sky be over and why aren't we there yet. *cue whimper.

I was not aware, probably from never paying attention in any science-type classes, that we were safe from lightning in our car since the tires are rubber.

I might have been a bit less...shall we say, freaked the frick out.

We needed gas.

There were no towns.  But there was a huge vintage sign: GAS, just up ahead.

We pulled into the station.  Every other clueless motorist (our peers) did the same.

The man behind the register was missing several teeth and seemed a bit grumpy.  His pet chihuahua, blind in one eye, looked at me with the good eye, shaking underneath a snoopy blanket.

As the station filled up with new motorists and we all chatted about the storm with fear in our eyes, our gas station register man (who probably had a rifle or something under the counter - I would) realized he had a captive audience and proceeded to tell us about people he has known who have been struck by lightning.
I just needed change.
But he kept jabbering.
I didn't know what the proper ettiquette was for trying to interrupt him.
But after an acknowledging giggle, I just said, "Wow....sheesh... that's crazy.  I need change."
He glowered a bit at me.
What did I care.  It was 1 am and we still had 3 1/2 hours to go.  Figure out your ego stroking on someone else's watch.

But he did bid me a nice good-bye, "don't fall asleep at the wheel and remember the half-melted face guy's story I told you about"
I nodded and waved thank you.

I wasn't going to be sleeping anytime soon.

So PB braved the lightning, braved my roadside pitstops, braved the rain, braved fatigue, braved my bitching at his swerving and braved a rest stop or two to be my excellent driver.

We finally rolled into Flagstaff at 4:30am.  We arrived at our campsite to find someone in the space we had reserved.
Luckily, there were several in the same area so we just parked and pulled out pillows and blankets and attempted sleep.
But I accidentally left the sunroof unshaded so my eyes fixated on the stars twinkling above me with the sky lighting up just a smidge with a provocation from dawn.

I awoke a few hours later when full on sun filled up the windows.  There was a little snack camper in the campgrounds run by volunteers.  The woman in the snack camper had a "the higher the hair, the higher to god" -hair do. Our breakfast was good. The coffee was weak but was perfect for the surroundings of trees, and old volunteers gossiping about whoever walked by. 
"I wonder if real camping people think having  a camp snack bar is cheating," I pondered.
PB sipping his coffee responded with, "real campers probably aren't camping here where there is Wi-Fi and cable"
"Touche" - how fancy of me to respond so proper-like in the forest.

I wish we were able to stay sleeping longer.  I wished we were able to stay camping longer.  I wished this were another vacation (not fraught with driving and car issues) so I could enjoy the hell out of Northern Arizona to see the Painted Desert and the Indian Burial Grounds and the Antelope Canyon.  Or even see the Grand Canyon again. Just the week before, PB and I awoke at 4am to watch the sun rise over the Grand Canyon.  It was mystical.  I wanted to see it again.  I wanted to explore.  But we had a lot of dealing with dealerships, rental car places, driving and not sleeping still ahead of us.

This was not a vacation.

But it was an adventure.

I got my car back and yes, I had to whisper to PB that I missed our rental.  But my girl did great with her new transmission purring us home.

We dined in Barstow among some cool people and tweakers.
We got excited about Route 66 for the umpteenth time.
And we laughed a lot.  And continued to caffeinate.

Back on the road again, it was closer to sunset as we started to see another lightning storm.
I started yelling out the window..."we already watched this movie, thanks anyway God"
PB just shook his head and laughed at me. 

Making it back to my apartment, we had been gone a total of 24 hours. 
Leaving at 8:30 Friday night and returning 8:30 Saturday night, we exhaled.  And felt like we had been on the lam.
Tired, and feeling like we had gotten away with something, we plopped down on the couch and had some wine.
And then I think I fell asleep standing up.
Maybe not.
But you are prone to exaggerations like that when you dodge your way through lightning storms and don't get struck but you meet a man who knew people who have.

Or maybe he was exaggerating too.

Only the one-eyed chihuahua knows for sure and he ain't talking.

PS - the Warranty people decided to reimburse me for the rental AND the gas!  All of a sudden, I had much fonder feelings towards the whole adventure.

August 29th, 2011

23 Miles From Blythe

It's not like I am new to road trips.

In fact, when I was 6 months old, my parents flew to Europe with me, bought a VW campmobile and drove for the next 6 months all over that continent visiting my mom's parents and then some.

All while I hung out in the back of the car, like it was my playpen. I am sure I was rolling around back there on the highways of Norway.

As I got older, every other summer, my mom would take my sister and me in that same camper and we would travel from LA up to Canada by way of Utah or Montana and Wyoming and come back south along the coast.

This would usually be a month-long trek with my mom, my sis and me, two dogs, no A/C and a lot of making up songs to pretend we were not boiling.

I think the no A/C drives is why my mom still has a ban on Vegas. I have driven across state lines with my friends as well.

And ever since my dad moved to Arizona 4 years ago, that trip has become my "alone time."

My sister is visiting from Germany with her husband and 3 kids. She has been up in Oregon the past 3 weeks and was headed to Phoenix to stay with my dad and his wife for a week.

I was going to join them and bring Peter Brady to meet the crazy crew. Peter Brady (PB) was worried.

"We should rent a car," he said, "No need to put those kind of miles on your car."
"Ha!" I laughed.

He had no idea that I had been doing this all my life. 5 1/2 hours in a car was nothing to me.

We bring tunes, some water, my car has A/C and had just been checked out ~ all would be great.

Blythe, CA, is the half-way point more or less between LA and Phoenix.
You get your gas, go to the restroom, buy some lunch, and you are on your way.

At least that was our plan.

We had just finished praising my car and commenting on how road-side California Call Boxes will probably start to be taken out considering everyone is mobile now. I was going 100 mph and passing trucks.
The car did a weird pulling with the steering wheel.

"What was that?" I ask.
"I don't know. How is it driving?"
"Well, the speedometer is not moving."
"Well, now you have an excuse to tell the cops," PB says.


I am still driving fast, still passing trucks, but the rev is high and it's starting to sound angry.
My car indicates that we have 50 miles left in the gas tank.
I pull into the righthand lane. It starts to lurch forward and sputter.
I pull off by a call box.
The smell of burning something is a little concerning.
Is it oil? Is it a leaky hose? I JUST HAD THE CAR LOOKED AT!!!!!!!!
My hands are shaking.
The temperature is now 117 degrees and we are in the middle of nowhere...23 miles to Blythe.
I go to the Call Box. Old habits.
PB says to just call AAA instead.
Oh yeah.
My mind isn't working properly. Sweat starts to gather on anything skinlike.
I call AAA. It will be 45 minutes.

We have water so I am not too worried.  The fact that I am near a Call Box helped them find me perfectly, since I couldn't really make out the marker for the next exit but the Call Boxes have numbers and so it would be easy for the driver to find me. 
You know, besides being broken down on the side of the road.

I call my dad and tell him I will be a little late. He is worried and tells us to flag down a trucker if we need to.
I am thinking how glad I am PB is there lest I am some highway hitchhiking horror story.

My dad also tells us to keep dabbing our necks with a wet cloth. We do.

PB blocks me from the road as I try and do a roadside pee.  All this stress is making my usually small bladder, even more eager to go.

The tow truck comes 20 minutes early.

"What is our tow limit for free?" PB asks
"7 miles", Sal, our driver, says.
We are triple that distance away. Not like we have any choice.
Sal tells us there will be no charge though, since that is the direction he is heading.
What the-?
We are stoked.
He tells us we can stay in the car as he puts it on the flatbed truck.
What the-?
"Can't we sit in the cab with you?" I ask.
"There is no A/C in my truck either so you might as well just get comfortable in your own car. But put your seat belts on."
"Is there any garage we can take my car?" I ask.
Sal looks at his watch. It's 2:45pm on Saturday.
"All the garages have closed. And they won't open until Monday." 

Well, this wasn't the plan. He thinks for a minute and says, "Call this number. His name is Phillipe."
I call. Phillipe is open.
He will take our car.
Sal knows the way, being a local Blythian and also knowing Phillipe.
The part of Blythe you see from the freeway is actually the best part.
But we got the Behind the Scenes version. We are headed to no-man's land while still on top of the flatbed in my car.

PB and I create a song called "23 Miles from Blythe" It goes like this so far:

23 miles from Blythe, yeah
23 miles from Blythe
Don't know how long
I'll be singing this song
But I hope it's not the rest of my life.

While being driven into Tweeker-ville, PB and I were filming ourselves singing our new song and pretending we were in one of those old time movies where the driver isn't watching the road or even really steering but you can see the car is moving.

Sal drives us into someone's property where there are a few cars and a garage. 
Phillipe seems very nice and has three tweens hanging out in the garage with him. 
No one is sweating except for PB and me. 
We are sweating for the group considering our shirts are soaked through. 
"So much for looking fresh for your family," PB says.

In my head, I kept thinking how we would be in Phoenix that evening and whatever was wrong would be an easy fix.
But the odds weren't looking good. 
And anyway, how would we even get to a motel from Phillipe's?  We had no idea where we were.

He checked the hoses, checked the undercarriage and came to the conclusion that.... we were out of fuel.

He left to go get some while PB and I waited in the hot garage with one of the tweens.  Once Phillipe returned, his theory was proven correct.  He fed the car, the engine purred, the speedometer started working again and we paid him $ for the gas as well as his time.  He could have gouged us but didn't. I was very thankful.

Still shaky, we parted ways with the hot little garage and grabbed some lunch and filled the tank of gas. 
At the gas station, PB told the woman at the counter what had happened and she said her car had lied to her too and that the problem had been the Cluster Joint.

Something to check out when I get back to LA. 

We made it to Phoenix.  Saw the family.  And promptly went for a swim.

The vacation is going better than I could have imagined. Everyone is having a blast and getting along.

Zappy and Reb are watching my cat and spoiling her rotten.

PB and I are headed to the Grand Canyon on Wednesday. 
My car is running fine now, but just in case, we are filling the tank, bringing more water, some more food, and a guitar...because when you start writing a hit song, you want some music to go with it.

Coming to Itunes soon!

The bookend to my parent's trip from Europe way back when I was a baby, is that when they came back to America after traveling around, they drove from NY to LA. Their car broke down in AZ too and they had to be towed (with all of us in the car) without A/C a good 40 miles too.

I guess sometimes, you want to take your hands off the wheel and just watch the scenery pass you by...in 117 degrees heat. 

It's a dry heat, so it's fine.
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